With dollar up against euro, Americans flocking to European cruises
PLYMOUTH, Minn. - Specific cruising trends based on data from an annual Travel Trends Survey has been unveiled today. It's clear from the survey data that Americans are confidently booking cruise vacations to Europe thanks in part to the declining value of the euro against the dollar; in fact, 71.2% of Travel Leaders polled indicate they are booking European cruises for 2012 and the vast majority of those cruises are Mediterranean cruises. Also revealed in this year's survey, the Caribbean retains its incredible overall popularity with U.S. cruisers; however, a closer look at specific itineraries being booked for 2012 reveals Alaska as the number one itinerary followed by Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Southern Caribbean cruises.
"The information revealed in our survey this year is extremely encouraging, particularly the European cruising statistics. Americans, in general, are showing an inclination toward traveling farther from home in 2012. It only makes sense that many of those travelers would seek cruise vacations abroad, such as Mediterranean cruises," stated Roger E. Block, CTC, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, which includes travel agency locations from coast to coast. "One of the reasons Americans may feel very comfortable booking European cruises, in addition to their familiarity with well-established cruise lines they know from North American homeports, is that the dollar is currently very strong against the euro. In addition, our travel agents, based on their exceptional knowledge and expertise, have the ability to completely customize any cruise vacation experience to meet and exceed the preferences of their clients, whether they are seeking a cruise vacation, land-based vacation or a combination of the two."
Below are the specific cruise-related trends for 2012 as identified by Travel Leaders owners, managers and agents from throughout the U.S.:
European Economic Crisis Not Deterring Cruisers
It appears the economic challenges facing the euro – resulting in a favorable exchange rate – may actually be driving demand among Americans to take advantage of European cruises.
Of the 410 Travel Leaders surveyed on cruising, 71.2% indicated they are booking European cruises (Mediterranean, Baltic and/or European river cruises) for 2012.
Of the 292 Travel Leaders who indicated they are booking European cruises for 2012, 75.3% are booking Mediterranean cruises.
Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean cruise itineraries are equally appealing to Travel Leaders' cruise passengers.
Would you say you are booking more:
Equal number of Eastern and Western Mediterranean cruises
Airfare Costs and European Cruising
When asked "How much impact does the cost of airfare [to Europe] have in the length of cruise or itinerary that your clients are choosing?" only 15.4% of Travel Leaders said it had a significant impact.
No impact at all.
Very little impact on their decision.
Some impact on their decision.
A significant amount of impact on their decision.
Getting to Europe via Air
When asked "Which type of air ticket do you book for the majority of your Europe cruise clients?" the majority of Travel Leaders polled said "regularly scheduled airline tickets."
Regularly scheduled air tickets
Air consolidator tickets
Cruise line's air ticket offering
Caribbean versus Alaska
Of the 410 Travel Leaders who indicated that 50% or more of their clientele are leisure travelers and they are booking cruises for 2012, 92.9% indicated they are booking Caribbean cruises for this year.
Travel Leaders were asked to choose up to five of their clients' most popular Caribbean ports of call. The survey revealed: St. Thomas (54.1%), Grand Cayman (39.9%), St. Maarten (27.8%), Aruba (25.2%) and Cozumel (24.1%) as the top five selections.
When asked about more well-defined cruise itineraries, rather than general regions of the world, Alaska was the number one itinerary being booked. The specific question posed was: "Which one of the following cruise destinations are you booking the most for 2012?"
Caribbean – Western
Caribbean – Eastern
Europe – Mediterranean
Caribbean – Southern
Europe – River Cruise
Europe – Baltic
River Cruising Rises in Popularity
Over 75% of Travel Leaders polled indicated that they have seen an increase in interest and bookings for international river cruising (24.2% said "Yes, significantly" and 50.9% said "Yes, somewhat"). While this particular question didn't specifically call out European river cruises, it should be noted that European river cruises rank #13 overall on Travel Leaders list of Top International Destinations. That's an impressive jump of eight spots and is in competition with international destinations and cities worldwide.
Top International and Domestic Destinations: 5 Cruises Rank in Top 15
Based on actual bookings of 640 Travel Leaders owners, managers and agents nationwide, three cruise destinations are among the Top 15 International Destinations and two cruise destinations are among the Top 15 Domestic Destinations – which is impressive when competing against all destinations/cities throughout the world. Agents were asked to name up to five top destinations they're booking for 2012:
2012 Top Int'l Destinations
CRUISE - Caribbean
CRUISE - Europe (Mediterranean)
CRUISE - Europe (River)
2012 Top Domestic Destinations
Cruise – Alaska
Cruise – Hawaii